Flight Blog

Feb 08 2011 Joplin Essential Air Service BY sgf-adminTAGS Fares


We received this email from Chad:

"I just stumbled across an article stating that American Airlines will now offer daily flights to DFW from Joplin.  I travel weekly for business and just booked 3 flights departing SGF yesterday.  My trip to Portland on American totaled about $900 after taxes and fees, however, I checked the same flight dates from Joplin and the fare totaled about $350.  How does the airport plan to compete with this new Joplin service?"

The American service out of Joplin is new (starts this week) and it’s Essential Air Service (EAS). EAS is a federal program that pays airlines to fly into markets that otherwise would not have air service. In other words, the service is subsidized by the federal government—it gives American a revenue guarantee. That’s one reason the fares out of Joplin are lower than Springfield.

Also…It’s our understanding that the previous EAS airline in Joplin did a good job of running off customers. American finds itself in the position of having to rebuild the service from the ground up. We suspect American’s low inaugural fares are part of its attempt to rebuild. Bottom line: we expect the fares to go up after a financial quarter or two.

EAS is something of a political hot potato these days. This week Senator John McCain proposed a bill that would eliminate the program. Here's part of what the Juneau Empire reports:

"Although this program is called the Essential Air Service, in my view it’s far from essential,” he said. He said the program’s expendability stems from that most Americans live within 120 miles to major hub airports and so bypass EAS flights. He said the program originated because airline deregulations inspired Congress to subsidize carriers to service small communities “at a loss because otherwise no sane business would serve a market at a loss."

By the way, our airport does not qualify for EAS funding — we're too big and the airlines can make money here without subsidies.


Feb 03 2011 Delta Charm School BY sgf-adminTAGS Customer Service, Delta


..."after a particularly bad year last year in customer service, Delta Air Lines is sending 11,000 agents back to school. Every ticket counter, gate and baggage agent and supervisor is going through renewed training in hopes of rejuvenating Delta's customer service after its merger with Northwest Airlines and a summer of canceled flights left customers stranded."

Read the rest of the story from the Wall Street Journal.



Allegiant Air "closed out 2010 with its 32nd straight profitable quarter and an 18.9 percent increase in revenue for the year, but a 13.9 percent decline in earnings over 2009."

That's according to the Las Vegas Sun. Reporting on the airline's recent conference call with investors, the paper notes that Allegiant plans to " add seats on every plane in its fleet of 51 MD-80 jets." The paper doesn't say so, but we've heard on the grapevine that the airline will add 15 seats to each plane.

Of course, what Allegiant fans really want to know about is the future Hawaii service. On this, the airline is still vague: "The airline announced last year that it would fly to Hawaii from the West Coast with the planes [newly acquired 757s], but hasn’t given any details about what cities would be served.


Jan 27 2011 Frequent Flyer Tips BY sgf-adminTAGS Fares


Are you, or do you aspire to be a frequent flyer? Reuters offers some tips on maximizing your miles. It's "a myth-busting guide to maximizing your points without digging deep into your pocket."



Our 2010 passenger count is in: the total number of passengers going through the airport was down 2%, compared to the year before. Compared to the wild swings we’ve had the past few years, that doesn’t seem half bad.

Take a look at the graph. It plots our total passenger numbers, beginning in 2000. Each bar on the graph is numbered with its ranking. 2005 was our banner year, so it’s #1. 2002 was our worst year, so it’s #11:

The decade in review. Click to see a larger version.

Here’s the story the graph tells…

In 2000 we had 710,961 total passengers. Then came the havoc of 2001. In the aftermath of September 11th, we finished the year down 8%. It took the airline industry two years to show signs of recovery.

In 2004 passenger numbers finally went up in a meaningful way: up 11%.

In 2005 we shot up 23%. There were several reasons for this increase: 1) The airline industry had mostly recovered from the affects of September 11th. 2) When adjusted for inflation, fares were at historic lows. As a result, more people were flying. 3) Allegiant began flying from Springfield. Delta added service from Springfield to Atlanta. Northwest started service to Detroit and Minneapolis.

In 2006 we dropped 3%. In 2007 we came up 2% Then came the recession….

In 2008, as people cut spending, and many quit flying, we dropped 12%. That was the biggest one year drop in the airport’s history.

In 2009 we came roaring back with an 18% upswing, to finish the year up 4%. Talk about a roller coaster…

Now, were down 2%.

What does 2011 hold? More of the same…status quo.

We expect no significant growth in demand—mainly because the recession is not over, and unemployment continues to hover near 10%. Employment is a key driver in passenger demand: if more people have a job, more people will fly. If fewer people have a job, fewer people will fly.

Fuel is the great wild card. Last summer the spot price for a gallon of jet fuel was about $2.00. This week it’s $2.66.

We expect less than one percent growth in airline capacity nationwide. All bets are off, though, if fuel prices spike this summer. The airlines will respond by cutting the number of seats in the air and fewer people will fly, period.

  • 2000: 710,961
  • 2001: 653,568
  • 2002: 652,283
  • 2003: 653,253
  • 2004: 721,958
  • 2005: 888,738
  • 2006: 864,999
  • 2007: 883,893
  • 2008: 779,995
  • 2009: 811,771
  • 2010: 796,251